The Supreme Court is expected to decide January 15 whether to accept a Washington State gay rights ballot measure, the Seattle Times reported.

The court agreed to consider taking the case in October after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of public release of 138,000 signatures collected this summer to put the state's gay-inclusive “everything but marriage” domestic partnership law up for a vote.

Protect Marriage Washington, the group responsible for putting Referendum 71 on the November ballot, appealed to the Supreme Court.

Judges meeting in a private conference on January 15 will decide whether to accept John Doe vs. Sam Reed. If the court rejects the case, then the lower court's order would take effect, according to the Secretary of State. If accepted, the case will likely be argued in April, with a decision expected in June.

Gay rights group wants to publish the names on the Internet. Under the state's Public Record Act, names of people who sign petitions become public record after the Secretary of State verifies a petition.

Opponents say releasing the names would put those people at risk of harassment, reprisals and boycotts of their businesses, amounting to an unconstitutional infringement on free speech rights. They argue the Public Record Act violates the First Amendment rights of voters who sign ballot petitions.

Protect Marriage Washington is being represented by the Christian-based legal group Alliance Defense Fund (ADF). The ADF earlier set up a Referendum 71 webpage to collect data from people who “have been threatened or suffered retaliation after signing an R-71 petition” or were prevented from signing a petition.

Referendum 71 was approved by voters, upholding the law approved by lawmakers in the spring that expands a 2007 domestic partnership law for a second time, granting gay and lesbian couples all the remaining state-provided rights, benefits and responsibilities of marriage. Opponents say the law violates a 1998 gay marriage ban ruled constitutional by the state's Supreme Court.